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Inter-seasonal population dynamics and pest status of Bemisia tabaci (Gennadius) biotype B in an Australian cropping system

  • R.V. Sequeira (a1), A. Shields (a1), A. Moore (a1) and P. De Barro (a2)

Bemisia tabaci, biotype B, commonly known as the silverleaf whitefly (SLW) is an alien species that invaded Australia in the mid-90s. This paper reports on the invasion ecology of SLW and the factors that are likely to have contributed to the first outbreak of this major pest in an Australian cotton cropping system. Population dynamics of SLW within whitefly-susceptible crop (cotton and cucurbit) and non-crop vegetation (sowthistle, Sonchus spp.) components of the cropping system were investigated over four consecutive growing seasons (September–June) 2001/02–2004/05 in the Emerald Irrigation Area (EIA) of Queensland, Australia. Based on fixed geo-referenced sampling sites, variation in spatial and temporal abundance of SLW within each system component was quantified to provide baseline data for the development of ecologically sustainable pest management strategies. Parasitism of large (3rd and 4th instars) SLW nymphs by native aphelinid wasps was quantified to determine the potential for natural control of SLW populations. Following the initial outbreak in 2001/02, SLW abundance declined and stabilised over the next three seasons. The population dynamics of SLW is characterised by inter-seasonal population cycling between the non-crop (weed) and cotton components of the EIA cropping system. Cotton was the largest sink for and source of SLW during the study period. Over-wintering populations dispersed from weed host plant sources to cotton in spring followed by a reverse dispersal in late summer and autumn to broad-leaved crops and weeds. A basic spatial source-sink analysis showed that SLW adult and nymph densities were higher in cotton fields that were closer to over-wintering weed sources throughout spring than in fields that were further away. Cucurbit fields were not significant sources of SLW and did not appear to contribute significantly to the regional population dynamics of the pest. Substantial parasitism of nymphal stages throughout the study period indicates that native parasitoid species and other natural enemies are important sources of SLW mortality in Australian cotton production systems. Weather conditions and use of broad-spectrum insecticides for pest control are implicated in the initial outbreak and on-going pest status of SLW in the region.

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Bulletin of Entomological Research
  • ISSN: 0007-4853
  • EISSN: 1475-2670
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